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Volume 26, Number 11 — November 2018

Charles Vess explores the world of “Earthsea”

Charles  Vess is an artist and illustrator whose studio is in Abingdon.
Charles Vess is an artist and illustrator whose studio is in Abingdon.
Additional photos below »

October 31, 2018

The publication of “The Books of Earthsea,” written by Ursula K. Le Guin and illustrated by Charles Vess, is celebrated Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m., at The Community Center, Abingdon, Virginia.

Vess is an artist and illustrator whose studio is in Abingdon. He spent four years drawing the 54 illustrations for this book, some in color and some in black and white, in close consultation with Le Guin. Unfortunately, Le Guin died in January 2018 just as the illustrations were being completed.

Le Guin’s “Earthsea” fantasy and science fiction novels are some of the most acclaimed works in American literature. They have received prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike.

Earthsea refers to a world of islands surrounded by an uncharted ocean. “The Books of Earthsea” brings together in one publication the five Earthsea books, beginning with “The Wizard of Earthsea” in 1968, “The Tombs of Atuan” (1971), “The Farthest Shore” (1972), “Tehanu” (1990) and “The Other Wind” (2011), along with additional stories and transcripts of lectures by Le Guin.

Vess is a world-renowned visual artist whose career has spanned more than four decades.

His illustrations as a fantasy artist include many for Marvel Comics, including the cover art for “The Amazing Spiderman;” for DC Comics, there was an 11-issue run of “Swamp Thing” and illustrating the “Sandman” series written by Neil Gaiman. In addition, he illustrated Gaiman’s book “Stardust” and Charles de Lint’s “The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.”

In addition to his illustrations, Vess is a sculptor. He co-designed and co-sculpted the 16-foot-tall Barter Theatre fountain titled “Midsummer Play,” dedicated in Abingdon in 2009. His most recent sculpture, titled “Bristol’s Cultural Heritage,” was installed at the Bristol Public Library in 2014.

At the Abingdon event, Vess will describe the four-year process of drawing the illustrations for the “The Books of Earthsea.” The drawings will be displayed at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon from Jan. 17 to Feb. 24, 2019.

Vess’s lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Washington County Public Library and is free and open to the public. There will be book sales and signings after the event.

For more information, call 276-676-6298 or visit www.wcpl.net.

Topics: L, Literature



At the Abingdon event, Vess will describe the four-year process of drawing the illustrations for the “The Books of Earthsea.”


Illustrated title page of "The World of Earthsea."